BP millions 'leveraged' for maximum impact

BP millions 'leveraged' for maximum impact

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Leaders helping coordinate more than a decade's worth of BP restoration projects, worth hundreds of millions say the work is just beginning.

From flooding issues to ongoing erosion, Historic Turkey Creek has snagged its share of negative attention in recent years. But now, some of the attention is positive - $7.5 million in BP funding to improve the coastal waterway.

"It's looking at the stream and enhancing fish habitat, reducing flooding. Fixing the stream banks from an erosion perspective," Dr. Robert Kroger explained, while addressing the State of Our Coast conference earlier in the week.

The struggling oyster industry will receive BP funding for a variety of projects including oyster farming, cultch planting, and even a thorough assessment of existing reef areas.

"There's going to be a cultch assessment. Do we still have contamination out there on some of our reefs? Let's find out. And if we do, let's fix that," added Kroger.

Popps Ferry Causeway Park is also in line for some of the BP funding for project that will enhance recreational opportunities which already exist on Biloxi Bay.

"Going to bring some kayak rental opportunities here, some environmental recreation opportunities here so people will be able to utilize this and really explore Back Bay Biloxi," said Kroger.

Those involved with planning and implementing the restoration projects say one critical component is leveraging. Whenever possible, they combine the BP money with federal grant dollars or other funding sources to get more bang for their buck.

Six million in BP funding is earmarked for Gulf Islands Park in Ocean Springs, and a bicycle and pedestrian pathway is planned.

"On about two and a half miles of trails. You'll be able to walk and run up and down in this area," said Kroger.

One of the largest restoration efforts is happening in Hancock County; a $50 million "living shoreline" project which will create 46 acres of oyster reefs and use dredge spoils to build 46 acres of marshland.

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